Category Archives: microfiction

Reaching Out

 

 

 

 

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I am still in here.

In this blog.

In these stories.

New horrors coming.

Parched and dry,

Reaching out to you.

Can you see me?

Am I real?

________________

Sitting in Darkness has been inactive for a while – but I have sprinkled the ‘tana leaves’ into the tea, and made the dusty beast drink. Soon Sitting in Darkness will be dragging its dead feet into your reading space once again. 

Image:Eflon

 


Dummies – Nuclear Test Site, Nevada 1953

Good jobs,

Government man say.

Even children paid.

Keep house.

Keep new furniture.

Love children.

Love life.

_____________

Momma go out?

No.

Momma go out?

No.

M –

_____________________________________

For a flash challenge at terribleminds

Image by Mark Holloway


Deep Ones

The Deep Ones took her on a beautiful summer day.

She’d been lolling in the gentle surf, eyes half-closed against the sun and its glittering reflections. On the cusp of womanhood, her scent drew them in, just as the elders said it had happened in the time of horrors.

The Deep Ones dragged her to the bottom and drowned her, leaving a seed deep in her dead womb. It burst forth, fully tentacled, a storm of blood and bubbles.

Decades later, his stolen daughter a local legend, the fisherman spied a tentacled horror on the bottom – and wept in recognition.

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Thanks to Emma Audsley who posted this excellent image (drawn by Victor Hugo, no less!) as a prompt for a 100-word story on her active and excellent blog, The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog. I responded to Emma’s prompt with the story you read above and I’m re-posting it here because I like this tiny tale.

Interestingly, I found the following text from Victor Hugo accompanying the image when I downloaded it from 50 Watts via Flickr.  Strange and fun, I think, how it meshes with the story I wrote having only seen the picture. More a testament to Hugo’s drawing than my writing, I suspect.

At night, however, and particularly in the hot season, she becomes phosphorescent. This horrible creature has her passions, she awaits her submarine nuptials. She adorns herself, setting herself alight and illuminating herself; and from the height of some rock she may be seen in the deep obscurity of the waves below, expanding with a pale aureole — a spectral sun.


All the Colors of This World…

The teacher’s day started like thousands of winter weekdays before it. She made up the twin bed, drank half a cup of instant coffee, fed the cats, put on her wool coat, and walked across the street to the school. She seated herself primly at her desk. The empty rows of desks reminded her of a barren, November garden. She awaited the imminent clamor of arriving children, children whom she would ignore today while she contemplated the dull grayness of the tenements outside her window and considered what must be done.

Today is the day, she thought. Let the nightmare end.

The teacher had left no note of her plan, but she had filled many notebooks describing her despair and her musings on the different methods one might employ to end one’s life. She would exit the world unheralded and unloved, just as she had entered it thirty-four years earlier. Why had kindness and warmth never bent in her direction? Her body had known no pleasure save for what little she, on those rare mornings, was able to provide herself.

A wasted life, best ended.

And then the new girl was presented to her, all large, sad slate eyes and dirty, coppery hair, and of course she had to be introduced to the class and found text books, and writing implements, and wasn’t this just the worst day to have this type of distraction?

But the teacher was one to fulfill her duty, no matter the inconvenience. She escorted the new girl to a desk where she immediately drew the stares and taunts of the class. The teacher, distracted, vaguely admonished the children to leave poor Agnes alone and get along with their lessons, please.

The tik-tik-tik of the freezing rain against the window mesmerized the teacher. The bells rang for recess but she merely sat, thinking of oblivion, until the children bolted of their own accord, casting worried glances in her direction. All except the new girl, who stood motionless in front of the teacher’s desk staring, holding a pink rose between her right thumb and forefinger.

And the teacher accepted the flower. She pushed its soft pink petals against her nostrils and inhaled deeply, so deeply her ribs ached. But the teacher did not release that breath. She closed her eyes, sat back in her chair, and held her breath, refusing to release the scent from her head. As if in a dream, she noticed that the sun had broken through a crack in the clouds and bore down on the large east windows. Shimmering light bathed her face, and from a place deep within welled up images of love directed at her, the teacher, the woman who never knew love, and then the teacher was startled awake when the new girl said, “Pink can heal.”

The teacher opened her eyes and wept and did not stop until well after the other children wandered back in from recess with fearful looks on their faces.

And so the teacher did not end her life that day. The teacher’s feelings blossomed as each day the new girl brought her another flower. And the new girl always seemed to know which flower was the right flower to present, as if the new girl could read her mind or her heart and apply the just right remedy. And the teacher learned.

She learned blue hydrangeas soothed. And orange nasturtiums thrilled. And white poppies intoxicated. And there was no end to her pleasure while she smelled the flowers, but in the evenings, she still could be counted upon to burn or cut her forearms until the kitchen table was slick with blood and tears.

One day the teacher asked the new girl why the feelings the flowers brought her were only temporary, and the new girl said, “Because you want to die, they will not take root. You are barren. I’m doing my best.”

And the teacher became angry at being called barren for the third time in her life, and she  shouted, “I don’t understand! Where do you get these flowers? I want to see where they come from, do you hear?” And she shook the girl back and forth and tried to reach into her pocket and pull out a flower to sniff, but the little girl threw the teacher off with unexpected strength.

Then it suddenly seemed to the teacher that it was sunset, although the children were at recess weren’t they?. The sky was dark, and a fiery red sun looked in on her and the new girl from just above the horizon, like some malevolent one-eyed god.

And the new girl was changing too. She grew taller, her head elongated and horns thrust themselves out of her forehead while her eyes migrated off to the sides.  She produced an enormous red rose from the pocket of her jacket and with a low, growl said, “Red means wrath.” And then the teacher was no more.

The teacher was never found, but everyone assumed the worst for in her desk were discovered several personal notebooks, written in her own hand, describing her black depression as well as her thoughts on ending her life. She also described a person she referred to as ‘the new girl’.

The bottom drawer of her desk was filled with dead flowers: azaleas, poppies, lilies, roses.

No one could make sense of the flowers.

And there had been no new girl in the teacher’s class this year.

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This is one of those stories that was completely unplanned. I had not the faintest idea of what the ending of this story was going to be when I sat down to write it. Many times, one knows the ending and the writing is just a blazing of a trail to get there.

I hope people will continue to find the blog and read the stories. I’d like to think the stories provide some invitation to ponder or just a little entertainment on the train, the bus – some stories that don’t require a huge time commitment from the reader.  If you’re so inclined, please leave a comment thanks for stopping by. Hope you come back.

Image by studiobeerhost


The Lost Love of Little Bianca (a tiny tale of big revenge)…


One of the great aspects of writing flash fiction is seeing how much story you can pack into a tiny bit of text. This is 100 words to tell a story of revenge. Love, Sex, Betrayal, and Revenge….all in a tiny package.

 

Image by Steve Snodgrass

The Lost Love of Little Bianca (a tiny tale of big revenge)

 

The things you hear living in a carnival camp.

Little Bianca, the dwarf whore who could swallow razor blades, and Antoine The Cuke, so named due to his enormous member, were inseparable. Each night, we’d cover our ears as Little Bianca moaned in pleasure. Bianca beamed, even during performances as she ate razor blades.

Then The Cuke broke her heart when she caught him with The Yak Woman.

So one night Little Bianca dragged him behind the Tilt-A-Whirl, got on her knees and gave him the blowjob of his life – fresh from her razor-swallowing performance.

Oh, the screams we heard!


Avenging Angel…

Avenging Angel

Linda reached for her vibrating cell phone on the nightstand. She didn’t need the ringer; she wasn’t sleeping well these days.

“What?” she mumbled.

“Linda, we’ve got another one.”

Linda sat bolt upright. “Like the others? You’re sure?”

“Propped up on all fours. Tail, mane – the works. This one’s extra special, though.”

Linda waited, her eyes wide. She looked at the photo of a young girl on the nightstand.

“For Chrissakes, Marty, spit it out. This isn’t a game show.”

“This one has…more accessories. Just get down here and see it.”

“It? These were people once, Marty. Have some fucking respect.”

“Says you.”

Lieutenant Linda Einhorn took down the address.

The details of the report she’d been writing earlier that evening played like a movie across her mind: three murders so far, all known perps. Pedophiles. Overpowered, restrained, throats slit, dressed up to resemble what appeared to be horses and left propped on hands and knees. They’d been found in abandoned warehouses around the outskirts of Boston.

No prints.

No witnesses.

No leads.

But something, a faint echo of insight, tugged at the edge of Linda’s mind, depriving her of sleep.

Linda arrived at a warehouse in Revere. The parking lot was loaded with official vehicles, the blue strobes flicking off the stained brick façade of the building. The Revere cops stood around looking resentful while the Staties conducted their investigation. As a State Police detective, Linda was allowed to enter immediately.

Marty – State Police Lieutenant Martin Sutherland – approached her from the shadows.

“Upstairs in the back office. Just follow your nose.” Marty accompanied her to the base of the stairs and yelled up, “Alright, clear the fuck out of there and let Einhorn have at it.”

Linda ascended the stairs, steeling herself. The sweet odor of rotted flesh and blood forced a hand to her face.

As the last of the crime scene techs walked past her, Linda entered the office. It was small, cramped, but with a large window through which, she assumed, a manager could supervise the floor. Linda looked up. Brown stains spread like old maps on the suspended ceiling tiles.

A spotlight stood in the corner to her right, illuminating the star of the show.

White male, approximately forty-five years old. He was naked and draped over a low-slung bench. At first glance, one would think he was up on all fours.

As expected, a broken mop handle protruded from the victim’s anus, the mop giving the appearance of a bushy tail. He’d been spray-painted white and stood out in stark contrast to the bloodied, dirty office décor.

There was a transverse slit across his throat. On his head was a silver-pink wig, like a horse’s mane. Under his chin, a section of rusted pipe held his head up. His milky, lifeless eyes were frozen in a rictus of surprise and horror.

Then Linda noticed it: an ice pick with a spiral white handle planted firmly in the victims’ forehead.

“A unicorn,” she whispered to herself.

Her mind raced through the prior crime scenes.

A pink painted victim with blue mane and tail.

A black ‘horse’ with his forearms broken to make it appear he was prancing.

“Oh my God,” Linda said to no one. And it all fell into place.

She rushed back down the stairs.

Marty was waiting at the bottom with a cup of coffee.

“That was quick. How’d you like the ice pick? Nice touch, eh? We’ll be here all nigh-“

“A  carousel. He’s making a carousel, Marty. Look where the bodies were found. Revere, the North End, Braintree. He’s making a carousel around Boston.”

Marty grabbed her arm and pulled her into a corner.

“It’s not him, Linda. Stop torturing yourself.”

Linda stared through the ceiling up into the office and thought of the Unicorn up there.

Her daughter, Sammie, had loved unicorns. Each time she and her ex-husband Peter had brought their little girl to the Salem Willows, Sammie had only one desire: to ride the unicorn on the ancient carousel.

The day Sammie was taken, Peter was playing Skee-Ball in the arcade next door. Later that night, the Salem cops had found Sammie – or what was left of her – in a dumpster at Pickering Wharf.

Linda had of course focused all her grief and anger on Peter. The marriage was over. How could they make life whole again with Sammie’s violent absence living in the house with them?

“Where were you?” How many times had Linda thrown that in his face?

Peter had left before the divorce was final. Almost two years now.

Then, about four months ago, the bodies started showing up.

No one could know about the carousel. But Linda’s suspicions were now confirmed. She knew it in her bones that Peter was the one.

“Hey, kid. Why don’t you go home? I’ll clean this fucking mess up and we’ll regroup tomorrow at the barracks.” Marty could be tender on those occasions when he remembered he still had a heart.

“Thanks.” Linda was stunned. Not sure what to do next.

At home in bed, Linda wept as she hadn’t allowed herself to weep for the past two years.

In the fetal position, she finally dropped off to a tortured sleep.

In her dream she heard the carousel’s crazy carnival music. The lights blinked and the sun glinted off the many mirrors on the ride.

Sammie, as usual, rode the tall, white unicorn with its flaring nostrils and gleaming brilliance. Peter stood next to her, making sure she didn’t slide off the oscillating beast.

With each revolution, Sammie’s faced grew paler and started to putrefy. Finally, Linda saw Sammie come around, dead, mutilated, gripping the pole that rose up out of the unicorn’s back.

Linda was sobbing in her sleep. In her dream, she was screaming.

On the final revolution, Peter came into view laughing, holding an ice pick aloft.

And he descended from the carousel toward Linda, like an avenging angel.

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Image by Dominic’s Pics

This is the latest Flash Challenge for Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.


“Bijou” to be Published on Flashes in the Dark…

Do you remember the two gangsters in the closet trying to rob Mimi Del Sarte of her precious jewels?  If you recall, they ran into a problem with Mimi’s pet, Bijou.  It was a fun story to write and I like to re-read it every now and then.  Well, the folks over at Flashes in the Dark will be posting “Bijou” on their website on July 1st.  While you’re there, you might check out some of the other great stories they post from other authors.

I’ll be back with a new story tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.


Black Kedo (A Nagasaki Memory)…

Black Kedo – A Nagasaki Memory

When the black rain hit us, we thought we would die.

But we were wrong.

My wife looked up at me as we struggled to breathe.

“Where is Kedo?” she said.

I shrugged, not feeling myself at all.

After the brightness, all the air was sucked out of us.

A piece of cedar from the doorframe was sticking out of my wife’s neck.

I tugged at it, absentmindedly, but she slapped my hand away.

Kedo.

We looked all around the house but couldn’t find our daughter.

Then, finally, we noticed it: a perfect charcoal outline on the south wall of her room.

A shadow burnt into the wood.

We called her Black Kedo.

That was many years ago.

She would be fifty-seven today.

With bent back, I shuffle to the south wall and light some incense.

Happy Birthday, Black Kedo.

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Image by kedoink kedondeng


I Am No One…

I Am No One

Your employee identification number is on the back of your badge in the lower left hand corner. Right here, see?

Some new hires get confused and use the number on the front right corner. That would be your badge number. Now, don’t ever confuse your badge number and your employee ID number; you don’t even want to see how ugly that can get.

Me? I’ve been here…oh, let’s see, coming up on my seventeenth anniversary. Has it been that long?

Lots of changes since I came on. Look here: employee number two forty three.

OK – just a couple of things to get you oriented.

As you’ve probably seen, office attire is business casual. No one really knows where the line is between ‘business casual’ and ‘too casual’. If you have any doubts, ask your line manager. It’s easy to just look around and see what your coworkers are wearing and, well, fit in.

If you don’t stand out, no one can ever criticize you, right?

Now, get all your training out of the way as quickly as possible. I know it can seem overwhelming that you have three hundred and thirty seven Standard Operating Procedures to read and acknowledge in the next week, but just do the best you can. The SOPs are there to ensure we all do things the same way. Otherwise, there’d be chaos, right? Am I right? Sure I am.

Here’s your Intercorporate Behavioral Standards and Guidelines Manual. This is a living document. We’ve added to it continually over the years to account for nearly every conceivable interpersonal interaction and we’ve leveraged what we feel have been the most effective interventions and approaches.

For instance, need help giving feedback to a peer? It’s in here, Section 4.2.1.3a.

Think your kid’s drug problem is affecting your productivity? Just have a look at Chapter 12.

Want to know how to blow off steam at the afternoon spin session in the company gym instead of bringing a high-powered rifle to the office? You got it: it’s in there.

No matter what type of problem you might be facing, if it affects Corporate Productivity – and in the end, don’t they all? – The Manual will provide you with a step-by-step procedure to get back to peak production levels.

I remember when my wife and I were having some issues. See? I’m a manager who takes the training to heart: I can share some of my personal travails with you to show you that I’m as human as you are. It builds rapport and that sort of thing.

Well, as I was saying, a few years back, well, I guess it’s been about eight years now, my wife felt I was spending way too much time here at work. She never really took to the culture, you know? Pity.

It made it hard for me, because I had divided loyalties. I mean – it sounds awful to say this, I know – but I felt more at home here. I’d grown to love the predictability of the culture, the comfort of knowing any confusion could be dispelled by reviewing the relevant SOP. Home was just…uncontrollable.

Well, the folks at the Employee Assistance Program were great. They emphasized the fact that this type of thing was common and blah, blah, blah. Then, the counselor said something that completely illuminated my way forward. She said, “Success is nothing more than a matter of making the right quality choices despite adverse precipitating circumstances.”

I mean, I’d never had someone speak to me in such a straightforward manner before.

Long story short, my wife and kids left, and I’m still here. Obviously.

OK – enough about me.

Let me show you to your workstation. I prefer that term to ‘cubicle’, which has drawn considerable negative connotations in popular culture in recent years.

I know your first few days can be a little overwhelming. I suggest just keeping your eyes open. See what others do and try to blend in.

You want to find that sweet spot between being seen as a slacker and being seen as a show-off. That’s the ticket. Don’t give anyone cause to single you out.

Then, you’ll gradually move up the ladder mostly through attrition. Just hang in there, year after year.

Remember, I’m living proof that borderline operational competence can be successfully counterbalanced by a strict adherence to corporate policy and procedure.

Anyway, welcome aboard.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to drop by my workstation. Over there.

The name is Noone.

Spelled just the way it sounds.

___________________________________________________

Image by Derrick Tyson


Comfort Me with Apples…

Comfort Me with Apples

Tonight, she was sure of it: she’d been entered.

The stillborns and miscarriages of her recent past mocked her.

In the still of each evening, she heard them cackling and cooing as they romped through the deserted and darkened nursery. Vases occasionally tumbled and shattered.

She saw darting movements out of the corner of her eyes. Sometimes an entire child-image. Other times, just the quick shadow of a tiny foot as it whisked around a corner.

Of  course, he didn’t believe her. Not that he was cold or indifferent. Another man might have deserted her by now, leaving her yoked to barren solitude.

But he tried to make her laugh. To forget.

But they would never let her forget.

Each night in her dreams, she was assailed by tiny, blue faces. Shriveled. Accusing. Milky eyes staring up at her. Small monkey hands that reached up out of her bloodied bedclothes until she sat up screaming and he would comfort her, easing her back down until her bird’s heart returned to normal.

Tonight, another being had warmed itself beside her. Waiting to be invited in.

She put down the potato she was peeling and inhaled deeply. A sweet aroma of ripening apples entered her and she had wept. Another had chosen her.

In the hallway, she heard a picture frame slide down the wall and smash on the hardwood floor.

When he returned from work, she’d told him what had happened and what she wanted to do. He’d listened and agreed, as she knew he would.

She entered his study. He was sitting at his blood red writing table, staring out the window as the sun descended behind the Parliament building.

“Are you ready?” she asked him.

He turned to her and held out a red rose and a tightly wound bundle of sage. “Yes.”

They went to the fireplace and she thrust the sage bundle into the glowing embers. Its musty scent immediately filled the apartment.

“Come,” she said.

They unlocked the nursery door and entered, the smoking sage held out before her in a shaking hand. The end of the sage bundle glowed an unearthly orange in the semi-darkness. The smoke scent mingled with another, more ancient stench of corruption.

She grabbed his hand and strode to the very center of the room, sage held high, and screamed. She ran to each corner and thrust the smoking bundle upward. She demanded to be left alone, to be free of unnamed children.

The walls shook, the floor buckled. And outside, an unnatural orange glow filled the sky.

The woman and the man held each other tightly until the room stopped convulsing.

They walked back to the blood red writing desk in his study.

She draped herself onto his lap and lay back.

She took his hand and pulled it to her waist.

“Here,” she said. “Put your hand here. I smelled apples and then he was living right here.”

The man cradled her stomach and kissed her.

A delicious silence settled on the house as the orange glow faded to purple in the west.

She looked up at him with shining, wet eyes.

“Just like apples,” she said.

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Today I was at the home of a close friend. We were discussing books and life etc.  Conversation turned to whether or not there were such ‘things’ as individual human souls. I was of the opinion that the notion of  eternal souls is a delusion (not that I am in any way qualified to make such a statement.) My friend told me of her experiences with failed and successful pregnancies and I was fascinated. Moved, I wrote this story.

Image of incredible Chagall painting by Shawn Rossi


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